15 Best Female R&B Singers of All Time

Best Female R&B Singers

Do you know what are the top female r&b singers?

From chart-toppers to trendsetters, these 15 female R&B singers have not only dominated the charts but have left an indelible mark on the music landscape.

Join us as we delve into the rich legacies of these iconic artists, exploring female r&b singers and their achievements, influence, and why they stand as the best in the business.

List of the Greatest Female R&B Singers of All Time

1. Patti LaBelle (1944-present)

Patti LaBelle

Linda McCartney was an American songwriter, composer and vocalist best known for her work with the rock band Chicago. She has had a long career in music.

Patti LaBelle, born Patricia Louise Holt, stands as a living legend in the R&B realm. With a career spanning decades, LaBelle first gained recognition as the lead vocalist for the iconic group LaBelle, known for their chart-topping hit “Lady Marmalade.” In 1985, Rolling Stone magazine featured LaBelle as the first African-American vocal group on its cover.

The year 1992 marked a pinnacle moment in Patti LaBelle’s solo career when she clinched a Grammy for her album “Burnin’,” which boasted the infectious single “Lady Marmalade.” LaBelle’s contribution to music has been monumental, with over 50 million records sold, and her enduring presence is felt through her ongoing tours.

2. Aaliyah (1979-2001)


Aaliyah, an artist who left an indelible mark in her short but impactful career, began as a teenage sensation and quickly rose to prominence in both hip-hop and R&B. Born Aaliyah Dana Haughton, she garnered widespread acclaim with her sophomore album, “One in a Million,” achieving double platinum status.

Tragically, Aaliyah’s promising journey was cut short by a plane accident in 2001. Nevertheless, her legacy lives on through her timeless hits like “Back and Forth,” “At Your Best,” and chart-toppers such as “More Than a Woman” and “Rock the Boat.” Aaliyah’s vocal prowess, emotional delivery, and innovative musical style position her as a lasting influence in the R&B genre.

3. Jennifer Hudson (1981-Present)

Jennifer Hudson

Jennifer Hudson, catapulted into the public eye as a contestant on American Idol, swiftly became a force to be reckoned with in the R&B realm. Born in 1981 in Chicago, Illinois, Hudson’s vocal prowess earned her a Grammy for Best R&B Album for her eponymous debut album in 2008.

Beyond her musical accomplishments, Hudson showcased her acting chops with an Academy Award-winning performance as Effie White in the film adaptation of “Dreamgirls.” Her resonant voice, evident in hits like “Spotlight” and “If This Isn’t Love,” cements Jennifer Hudson as a versatile and enduring figure in contemporary R&B.

4. Mariah Carey (1970-Present)

Mariah Carey

Mariah Carey, the quintessential diva, boasts a career that spans multiple decades and transcends genres. Born in 1970 in Huntington, New York, Carey’s remarkable vocal range and versatile artistry make her the best-selling female artist of all time.

From her debut in the early ’90s with hit ballads to her later foray into hip-hop-influenced dance/pop music, Carey’s ability to reinvent herself is unparalleled. Her compilation album ” #1 to Infinity” encapsulates her chart-topping success, showcasing 18 number one singles and an impressive collection of 125 awards.

5. Jill Scott (1972-Present)

Jill Scott

Jill Scott, a multifaceted artist who initially aspired to be an English teacher, shifted her trajectory to become a three-time Grammy-winning R&B singer. Born in 1972 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Scott’s poetic and empowering songs have left an indelible mark on the genre.

Her debut album, “Who Is Jill Scott? Words and Sounds Vol. I,” released in 2000, features soulful tracks like “A Long Walk,” “Gettin’ In The Way,” and “He Loves Me.” Beyond her solo career, Scott’s songwriting prowess extended to crafting hits for musical giants such as Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston, and Aretha Franklin.

6. Gladys Knight (1944-present)

Gladys Knight

Gladys Knight, a musical luminary with a career spanning six decades, has consistently captivated audiences as a solo artist and the lead singer of the legendary Gladys Knight and The Pips. Known as the “Empress of Soul,” Knight’s soulful voice and emotive performances have solidified her as a true icon.

Her most popular songs include “Midnight Train to Georgia” and “Use Your Imagination,” not only showcase her vocal prowess but also affirm her status as a trailblazer in the R&B genre. With a career marked by enduring success, Gladys Knight remains a guiding light in the world of soulful music.

7. Sade (1959-Present)


Sade, the enigmatic Nigerian-British singer, has carved a niche for herself with elegant songs that effortlessly blend classic jazz with smooth R&B. Noteworthy tracks like “Smooth Operator” and “No Ordinary Love” have become timeless classics, showcasing Sade’s ability to create music that transcends eras.

What sets Sade apart is not just the velvety richness of her voice but also her mature pop sensibility and socially conscious lyrics. With an illustrious career that spans several decades, Sade’s influence on the R&B landscape is nothing short of profound, making her a revered figure in the genre.

8. Lauryn Hill (1975- Present)

Lauryn Hill

Lauryn Hill, a musical polymath, rose to prominence after her success with The Fugees and solidified her status as a solo artist with the critically-acclaimed “The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill.” Released in 1998, the album is a masterclass in musical fusion, seamlessly blending melodic rap, neo-soul, reggae, R&B, and hip-hop.

Lauryn Hill’s distinctive voice, coupled with her thought-provoking lyrics, garnered widespread acclaim and a slew of Grammy Awards. Beyond her musical contributions, Hill’s influence extends to shaping the cultural narrative, making her an enduring force in contemporary R&B.

9. Erykah Badu (1971- present)


Erykah Badu, an avant-garde force in R&B, is renowned for her distinctive style, smooth vocals, and jazz-inspired musicality. With a career spanning multiple Grammy Awards, Badu has not only redefined the R&B landscape but has also become a prominent voice in activism.

Her artistic expression extends beyond the confines of music, encompassing a unique fashion sense and a commitment to social issues. Erykah Badu’s influence is a testament to her ability to transcend musical boundaries and contribute meaningfully to the cultural conversation.

10. Toni Braxton (1997- Present)

Toni Braxton

Toni Braxton, a seven-time Grammy winner, stands as a formidable figure in both the realms of R&B and pop. Described as possessing a voice that is both soulful and sophisticated, Braxton’s impact on the music industry is profound. With over 60 million albums sold worldwide, her success is a testament to the universal appeal of her music.

Signature hits like “Unbreak My Heart” and “You’re Makin’ Me High” showcase Braxton’s vocal prowess, solidifying her status as an enduring figure in contemporary R&B and pop music.

11. Roberta Flack (1937- Present)

Roberta Flack

Roberta Flack, a musical virtuoso with an illustrious career, is celebrated for her elegant, smooth, and passionately emotive singing tone. Her extraordinary talent has garnered multiple Grammy Awards, with a historic achievement as the first artist to win Record of the Year twice in a row.

Hits like “Killing Me Softly with His Song” and “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face” showcase Flack’s ability to convey profound emotions through her soul-stirring voice. As a trailblazer in the R&B genre, Roberta Flack’s impact continues to resonate, leaving an indelible mark on the music industry.

12. Natalie Cole (1950-2015)

Natalie Cole

Natalie Cole, daughter of the legendary Nat King Cole, began her musical journey as a soul and R&B performer. Her debut album “Inseparable” (1975) featured hits like “This Will Be,” showcasing her powerhouse vocals and setting the stage for a remarkable career.

Beyond her solo success, Natalie Cole ventured into diverse collaborations, highlighting her versatility and ability to traverse various musical genres. With grace and talent, she left an enduring legacy that echoes in the hearts of fans worldwide.

13. Dionne Warwick (1940-present)

Dionne Warwick

Dionne Warwick is one of the best 90s female r&b singers, has written more than 75 top songs and sold over 100 million records.Dionne Warwick, a six-time Grammy Award winner, stands as a paragon of timeless classics in the R&B genre.

Her velvety voice and emotive delivery have crafted enduring hits like “I Say a Little Prayer” and “Walk On By.” Warwick’s collaborations with musical icons such as Stevie Wonder and Elton John further underscore her influence and versatility. With a career spanning decades, Dionne Warwick continues to enchant audiences with her soulful renditions and remains a cherished figure in the rich tapestry of R&B history.

14. Rihanna (1988-Present)


Rihanna, a global phenomenon and influential force in the music industry, has amassed an impressive collection of accolades, including 9 Grammy trophies. Her chart-topping hits like “Umbrella” and “We Found Love” showcase a diverse musical range that effortlessly blends R&B with elements of pop and dance.

Beyond her musical prowess, Rihanna’s impact extends into the realms of fashion and philanthropy. As a cultural icon and trailblazer, she continues to shape the landscape of contemporary R&B, leaving an indelible imprint on popular culture.

15. Mary J Blige (1971-Present)

Mary J Blige

Mary J. Blige, a true powerhouse in the realm of R&B, has achieved remarkable success with over 50 million albums and 15 million singles sold worldwide. Her debut album, “What’s the 411?” (1992), marked the beginning of a career that established her as a premier female vocalist.

Blige’s soulful and emotive performances resonate with authenticity, addressing themes of love, resilience, and empowerment. With eight platinum studio albums, Mary J. Blige continues to be a vital voice in contemporary R&B, influencing generations with her impactful contributions to the genre.

Frequently Ask Questions

Who is the most famous female R&B singer?

The most famous female R&B singer is undoubtedly Whitney Houston. She has sold over 200 million records and won numerous awards, including five Grammy Awards, two Emmy Awards, and a Golden Globe Award.

Who is the Queen of R&B 2022?

We will have to wait and see! There are so many talented female R&B singers out there that it’s hard to make a prediction. Some of the top contenders might be Rihanna, Mary J. Blige, Mariah Carey, Alicia Keys, or Beyoncé.

What are the Top R&B songs right now?

Some of the current top R&B songs include “Location” by Khalid, “That’s What I Like” by Bruno Mars, “Issues” by Julia Michaels, and “Bodak Yellow” by Cardi B.

What is the difference between R&B and Soul?

R&B is a genre of music that typically combines soul, funk, pop, and hip-hop influences. Soul is a genre of music that is similar to R&B, but typically has more gospel and blues influences.

Who are some other R&B female singers who are not on this list?

Some other R&B female singers who are not on this list include Celine Dion, Whitney Houston, Barbra Streisand, Mariah Carey, Adele, and Kelly Clarkson.

What is the origin of R&B?

The origin of R&B is widely debated, but it is generally accepted that the genre originated in the 1940s or 1950s. Some of its earliest influences include gospel, blues, and jazz.

Conclusion: Top Female R&B Singers

We hope this journey through the legacies of these remarkable female R&B singers has been enlightening. Their contributions not only shaped the genre but continue to inspire and pave the way for new generations of artists. Share your thoughts on your favorite female R&B singer in the comments and celebrate the enduring impact of these musical trailblazers!

Who is your favorite female R&B singer? Let us know in the comments!

You can also check out 19 Best Singers That Smoke Cigarettes (Famous Singers) and Why Do British Singers Sound American (Simple Guide).

2 thoughts on “15 Best Female R&B Singers of All Time”

  1. Any top 10 without Aretha Franklin is not credible. And I love Aaliyah, but number 2?!? She’s not in the top10 by any measure.

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